Purpose: We tested the hypothesis that certain patients with hormone refractory prostate cancer retain hormonal sensitivity even after progression following antiandrogen withdrawal. The efficacy of ketoconazole and hydrocortisone in this patient population was evaluated.
Materials and methods: A total of 50 consecutive patients with advanced prostate cancer received ketoconazole and hydrocortisone at progression after antiandrogen withdrawal. Prostate specific antigen (PSA) response was defined as greater than a 50% decrease in PSA from baseline that was maintained for at least 8 weeks.
Results: Overall, of 48 evaluable patients 30 (62.5%, 95% confidence interval 47.3 to 76.1%) had greater than a 50% decrease in PSA, while 23 (48%) had greater than an 80% decrease. The median duration of response was 3.5 months but 23 of 48 patients continue to exhibit a response, ranging from 3.25 to 12.75 or more months. The ketoconazole response rate in patients with no response to prior antiandrogen withdrawal was not different from that in patients with such a response (65 versus 40%, p = 0.35). Toxicity was mild. Grade 1 or 2 nausea, fatigue, edema, hepatotoxicity and rash occurred in 10.4 (5 of 48), 6.25, 6.25, 4.2 and 4.2% of patients, respectively, and anorexia occurred in 2%.
Conclusions: Failure to respond to antiandrogen withdrawal does not identify patients with truly hormone refractory disease. Ketoconazole retains significant activity in this setting and is extremely well tolerated.